Aug 23rd, 2007

Orange Blossom Special

Well, the University of Miami has decided, after a long, hard look at the money, to abandon the historic Orange Bowl and move to Dolphin Stadium. While this sucks and is typical of the wanton disregard for history and tradition that is traditional in the Magic City (Miami), there is a silver lining here, maybe, and that is this: since the OB is certain to be fodder for redevelopment, maybe, just maybe, this centrally located space can be turned into a baseball stadium for my sorta-beloved Florida Marlins.

The Marlins are stuck playing in the nasty cement heat sink that is Dolphin Stadium, and while being a cement heat sink isn’t so bad if you are playing football in what passes for the winter, it is absolute death in August for baseball. Not to mention the fact that the stadium does not convert well, with wonky corners in left field.

A few years ago I had figured out the perfect place for the baseball stadium, but nobody would listen to me and today that spot is occupied by something called “Jungle Island”, but which used to be Parrot Jungle. Of course, and again, this being Miami, the original Parrot Jungle was located in a tropical paradise of banyan trees, lagoons and 50-year old native plantings, but the neighbors complained about the free range Macaws and the riff-raff who came from out of the neighborhood to have breakfast with the flamingos and cockatiels, so the Parrot Jungle moved to a barren fill island in Biscayne Bay and had to build a tropical jungle from scratch. And that caused a drop off in attendance (well, the heat, the lack of shade and foliage and the rise in entrance fee from $10 to $35) and so now the newly-renamed Jungle Island is sort of struggling, when it could have been a beautiful baseball stadium with boat dockage for the sky boxes, and a view of the downtown skyline, and the wet dream of the tourist industry: an aerial view of the turquoise waters of Biscayne Bay surrounding the lush green of a real grass diamond, with the white cruise ships in the channel… telecast during a spring training day game while the snow is six feet deep in the rust belt.

Hey, I’m not bitter. Nobody listens to the prophet in his own time. Anyway. Now there is the very real possibility of a domed stadium in (almost) downtown. Will it happen? Not bloody likely, this IS Miami after all, and what better use for an obsolete (but not really) sports facility than overpriced housing in an over-saturated market?

I’ll give you odds that the Orange Bowl does not become the Marlins’ state of the art, retro-but-domed palace of play, but instead becomes Orange Bowl Towers, a state of the art condo tower with studios starting at $200,000.